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|Pilot 2nd Lt Bryant V. Wesley (survived)
Crashed November 30, 1942
Built by Curtiss in Buffalo, New York. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-40K-1-CU Warhawk serial number unknown. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 49th Fighter Group, 8th Fighter Squadron. No known nickname or nose art.
On November 30, 1942 one of twelve P-40E Warhawks of the 8th Fighter Squadron that took off from 3-Mile Drome near Port Moresby, each armed with a single 500 pound bomb. Escorted by sixteen P-40E Warhawks from the 7th Fighter Squadron. The formation proceeded to patrol and bomb Buna Village.
At 2:45pm over the Dobodura area the 8th Squadron planes radioed that they were under attack by A6M2 Zeros from the 252 Kokutai west of Buna village. The two pairs of escort P-40s drifted apart and were attacked from above by Zeros. According to Captain Nelson, who was not in the dogfight, the combat was in the vicinity south of Embi Lakes, within a thirty mile radius of Dobodura Airfield.
Voorhees of the 7th Fighter Squadron was credited with one enemy fighter shot down. Two other pilots: Lt. Paul J. Slocum of the 7th Fighter Squadron and and Lt. Furlso S. Wagner of 41st Fighter Squadron also claimed one enemy fighter shot down each. The Japanese lost two Zeros shot down.
This P-40 was shot down and Wesley bailed out near Big Embi Lake near Dobodura and landed unhurt. Also lost were P-40E piloted by Voorhees, P-40E piloted by Johnston.
Fate of the Pilot
After bailing out, Wesley walked to Dobodura and met U. S. Army engineers near Dobodura Airfield and was flown back to Port Moresby. He returned to duty 2-4 days after this incident. For his service, he earned the Purple Heart and Silver Star.
Afterwards, he returned to the United States and was killed piloting P-40N 43-23739 that took off from Pinellas AAF on June 14, 1944 and crashed eight miles east of New Port Richey, FL.
49th Fighter Group History
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - P-40 Kittyhawk piloted by Wesley
AAIR June 1944 USAAF Stateside Accident Reports - P-40N 43-23739 piloted by Wesley
Thanks to Edward Rogers for additional information
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